Some babies are chatting up a storm by age 1, others haven't really bothered. Yet, they might all fall well within what's considered "normal." But doctors who specialize in autism say they frequently hear this from parents, "I went to my pediatrician and said, 'please help I think something is wrong'. And the pediatrician said, 'well let's wait and see'."
That "wait and see" approach seems reasonable when you consider that wide range of "normal", but those who do have a serious communication delay or full-blown autism often aren't diagnosed until at least age two or three.
Dr. Max Wiznitzer with Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital said, "That means we've wasted time during which brain development might be positively affected by intervention."
Now intervention may come much earlier when children are flagged with a simple check-list at their 12-month doctor's visit. Karen Pierce, ph.D. with the University of California, San Diego said, "Their social behavior is just very subtly starting to become derailed."
Dr. Pierce looked at the effect of surveying parents about their babies' communication and language skills at their 1-year check-up. Pierce said, "The screen just says something is wrong -- it doesn't tell you what is wrong. Doesn't tell you what you should do."
Of more than 10-thousand babies -- 184 failed the screening and were sent to a specialist. A quarter turned out to be just fine. But 75-percent either had a significant delay or were later diagnosed with autism.
Those who needed treatment were able to start at around 18 months. Dr. Wiznitzer said, "This is a well-designed study that succinctly and concisely address their specific question: Can we use this checklist to screen for autism and other developmental disorders? And they did it."
Now the push is to get more doctors to use the check-list at the 1-year mark so kids can stay on track.
To fill out the checklist go to: http://www.brookespublishing.com/store/books/wetherby-csbsdp/checklist.htm